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Healthy, sustainable, and convenient organic products based on a thousand-year-old Icelandic tradition
Andrew Buerger is the founder of B’more Organic, an organic food and beverage company headquartered in Baltimore. The smoothies that make up B’more Organic’s flagship product line are based on an Icelandic style yogurt called skyr, which—in contrast with conventional dairy products—has more protein, less sugar, and no fat. The substance’s unique bacteria culture makes it suitable for people sensitive to lactose. Andrew came up with the idea for the company after trying skyr during a fundraising climbing expedition in Iceland. As a certified B Corporation, B’more Organic has pledged to meet strict social and environmental standards of sustainability, accountability, and transparency. B’more Organic also supports MS and breast cancer research by donating 1% of its sales to Jodi’s Climb for Hope.
After starting the company, how were you able to get distribution?
ANDREW BUERGER: We came back [from Iceland] and I had figured out: I knew I wanted to be in the skyr business. I was all excited. We would just import it from Iceland—would be a great way to get started. So I came back, go to Whole Foods one day, and there’s skyr on the shelves. I said, “There goes that idea.” We were literally buying it by the case because we liked the taste of it so much and the health benefits that we’d mix it up in our blender at home, and just start making smoothies out of it. And you know, “Wait a minute, why don’t we just make a bottle of smoothie rather than importing it from Iceland?” So, we made our own skyr, blended it up in the blender as a test batch, and put it in bottles.
My friend Josh Levinson, from Charm City Run, and Chris Warner of Earth Treks, and our neighbor who owned Charm City Yoga: they had refrigerators. I went to them and said, “Do you mind if we sell our product here and refrigerate it?” They said, “Yeah! That’s a great idea.” We were literally selling it to climbing gyms and yoga studios until my wife was able to meet the people at Expo East, the largest convention in Baltimore—the natural products expo. My wife was there when I was working my day job and she met the people from Wegmans, and they said, “We love it, we’ll take it in.” I thought we were going to be in the Hunt Valley store and was really excited. They put us in over 50 Wegmans.
So, we were mainly along the East Coast for a number of years. We were very lucky to get into 50 Wegmans, then Whole Foods, Mid Atlantic. A lot of great little regional stores like Mom’s Organic Market, Roots, Eddie’s, Graul’s picked us up and we were doing really well in the region until September 2015, when we got picked up by all the Harris Teeter stores, Lowes Foods— which is in the Carolinas—and a thousand Kroger stores.
What’s your background as an entrepreneur?
My background certainly wasn’t in either the dairy business or food production or anything related to consumer packaged goods, and I find myself running, fortunately, a growing packaged food business. But my experience is certainly in the advertising industry, and I have a marketing background. I understood sales and marketing, which is really the crux of most businesses, so that really served us well in terms of how do you create a brand that differentiates you from everything else on the market? You go into Wegmans—there’s a yogurt category shelf that’s 100 feet long. How are we different from everybody else? You go into Whole Foods—how are we different from everybody else? That experience was very helpful for us in terms of helping us create the brand. The sales and marketing is really what’s helping differentiate us from everybody else.
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